Growing up my friend Justin said something profound to me extremists are the bane of society. I don’t know that I believed him at that time. I was quite the conservative and had very strong moral values; I had embraced my “righteous mind”. I believed in absolutes. I believed in good and evil, right and wrong, back and white. But he made a very strong argument that we all actually live in the grey regardless of our beliefs and desires. And over the past 16 years, extremists (the righteous) on both sides of the policitical specrum have proven to me that they do cause more harm than good. Some great examples would be 9/11, the arsonists whom burned down the animal testing labs at Michigan State University or the people that blew up a family planning clinic because it performed abortions. I now, more than ever believe that the ends shouldn’t just justify the means because the “means” are where we all live.
It is easy to dismiss these extremist as just plain crazy. But no one is born an extremist. These people were someone’s brother or sister, neighbor, coworker, family, and friend before we classified them as an extremist. We all likely have what someone would consider “extreme” views but why is it that some people feel the need to go to such extremes to perform acts of violence and what could only be categorized as antisocial behavior?
I believe as a people, we are prone to marginalize and condemn those whom hold different and sometimes extreme views because it allows us to form a tribe. This in no uncertain terms makes those who are included feel special and others feel like an outsider. When we get the “us vs. them” attitude it can blind us to the truth and wisdom the others have to offer. I am definitely guilty of this attitude and certainly have been on the other side of the equation more than once. I can understand why the disenfranchised feel the need to go to extremes to have their voice heard and their plight understood.
So this election season, before I start to feel superior to those who believe in a different ideology, I am going to try to put myself in their shoes and try to better understand why they think and believe the things they do. It is our diversity that makes us strong as a nation. And the problems we face as a country can’t be resolved without everyone helping to make it better; which means inclusion of those who are different. So when I talk to my neighbors, family, friends and coworkers about this election, I will do it with an open mind. I would also like to challenge you to find out what issues are really important to you and I encourage you all to do the same. And who knows, we all may find that our views are not all that different (or extreme) after all.
Know the true: http://www.factcheck.org/